CHICAGO (CBS) — Bears general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy will be sticking around for at least one more season, despite another quick playoff exit and more questionable personnel moves.
Calling the two “outstanding leaders,” team Chairman George McCaskey made it official Wednesday morning, saying the decision came after “candid and constructive” meetings with Pace and Nagy over the course of the season, and after the Bears lost in the first round of the playoffs, coming off an 8-8 season.
“I was impressed with both of them this past season, especially during the six-game losing streak. The fact that our players never gave up is a tribute to the players. It is also indicative of the type of players that Ryan acquired and to the players’ regard for Matt as their head coach,” McCaskey said.
McCaskey and Bears president and CEO Ted Phillips said they understand the frustration Bears fans feel after back-to-back 8-8 seasons, and only two playoff appearances since 2010, but they said they still believe Pace and Nagy are the best people to lead the Bears to a championship.
“You deserve your Bears being winners. The decisions we’re announcing today may not be the easiest or most popular, but we believe they’re the best decisions for the Bears,” McCaskey said.
“In the end, all four of us want what’s best for the Bears. There are no egos. There are no other agendas. Have mistakes been made? Yes, but I think both Ryan and Matt are learning and growing,” he added. “It would be a perfectly natural reaction to say back up the truck, major overhaul, whatever you want to call it.”
Phillips also said they know many Bears fans want them to “fire everyone,” but he said that’s not always a recipe for success.
“We believe that Ryan and Matt are excellent leaders. They have each had successes and failures, but the path to winning is rarely linear, and we feel that the strong ability of Ryan and Matt to work together to build a shared vision of success is the fastest way towards building a consistently winning organization,” he said. “The popular opinion is to make a change, because we’ve hit adversity. I get it, but holding people accountable is much more than just starting over.”
McCaskey and Phillips repeatedly pointed to how well Pace, Nagy, and the players responded to the adversity of a six-game losing streak, noting that the team responded by winning three games in a row and clinching a playoff spot.
“Both Ryan and Matt were instrumental in holding the team together. We’re not happy, and we’re far from satisfied. Making the playoffs is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough,” Phillips said. “We need to win in the playoffs, and we need to compete for and win a championship. We know we need to get better.”
The biggest question for Pace and Nagy will be what to do with the quarterback position, after both struggled during the season. Mitchell Trubisky was benched for Nick Foles in Week 3, but Foles was mediocre in seven starts before the Bears handed the reins back to Trubisky. While Trubisky showed improvement against three bad defenses in December, he continued to show his limitations against winning teams in Green Bay and New Orleans.
Trubisky will head to free agency this offseason after the Bears declined his fifth-year option in May. Foles is still owed a guaranteed $9 million after this season, making it difficult to move him.
McCaskey and Phillips offered no hints at what the Bears will do at quarterback, but said they need improvement at the team’s most important position.
“It’s pretty clear we need better production from the quarterback position in order to be successful,” McCaskey said.
Phillips said they are confident Pace and Nagy have the qualities of a successful manager and head coach, and the Bears have enough other pieces in place to lead them to the right decisions “to correct some of the mistakes of the past.”
“Have we gotten the quarterback situation completely right? No. Have we won enough games? No. Everything else is there,” Phillips said. “We have a solid football foundation. We have a solid football culture. We truly believe that.”
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